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South Dakota Airmen Team Up With South Korean, Japanese Counterparts

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JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, Aug. 9, 2017 — Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers under the command of Pacific Air Forces joined their counterparts from the South Korean and Japanese air forces Aug. 7 in sequenced bilateral missions.

Four planes fly above clouds.
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepare to take off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a 10-hour mission, flying in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean Peninsula, Aug. 7, 2017. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger
Four planes fly above clouds. South Dakota Airmen ready to 'Fight Tonight' from Guam
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepare to take off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a 10-hour mission, flying in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean Peninsula, Aug. 7, 2017. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger

This serves as the first mission for the crews and aircraft recently deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in support of U.S. Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence missions, officials said.

After taking off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the B-1s -- assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron -- flew to Japanese airspace, where they were joined by Japanese F-2 fighter jets. The B-1s then flew over the Korean Peninsula, where they were joined by South Korean KF-16 fighters. The B-1s then performed a pass over the Pilsung Range before leaving South Korean airspace and returning to Guam.

Enhancing Combined Capabilities, Skills

Throughout the mission, which lasted about 10 hours, the aircrews practiced intercept and formation training, Pacific Air Forces officials said, enabling them to enhance their combined capabilities and tactical skills while also strengthening the long-standing military-to-military relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Ellsworth B-1s were last deployed to Guam in August 2016, when they took over continuous-bomber-presence operations from the B-52 Stratofortress bomber squadrons from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

"How we train is how we fight, and the more we interface with our allies, the better prepared we are to fight tonight," a 37th EBS B-1 pilot said. "The B-1 is a long-range bomber that is well-suited for the maritime domain and can meet the unique challenges of the Pacific." The pilot is not identified by name for security considerations.

Commitment to Stability, Security

Aircrews, maintenance and support personnel will continue generating B-1 bomber sorties to demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region, providing commanders with a strategic power-projection platform and fulfilling the need for aircraft that are mission-ready at any time, an important part of national defense during a time of high regional tension, Pacific Air Forces officials said.

"While at home station, my crews are constantly refining their tactics and techniques so that we can better integrate with our counterparts from other nations," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Diehl, 37th EBS commander. "As demonstrated today, our air forces stand combat-ready to deliver air power when called upon."

The United States has maintained a regular bomber presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region since 2004. The Aug. 7 mission demonstrated the U.S. commitment to regional allies, increased readiness and exercised the right under international law "to fly legally in the place and time of our choosing," officials said.

(From a Pacific Air Forces news release.)